5 Cheap activities to keep kids busy while you cook

5 Cheap activities to keep kids busy while you cook

Trying to get things done with hungry preschoolers in the house doesn’t make for a good combination. You’re probably looking for some cheap way to keep kids busy while you cook. I know I’ve been struggling with keeping them off of my legs while I try to make their dinner as quickly as possible.

5 Cheap on-hand activities to keep kids busy while you cook

Whining from one kid is bad enough but 3 year old twins is a step too far that even the whaambulance won’t pick them up. Add in 3 more needy older kids and it’s a recipe (pun intended) for disaster. Here’s what we do to help make dinner prep with 5 kids a little more manageable.

The best part? These all cost less than $5 each to get started with. 

Play Dough

This is hands down the favourite in our house. I picked up the Walmart brand at $2.97 CAD for a pack of 5. The way my kids mix it up and let it dry out it’s not worth buying the good stuff. If you want it to last longer just make sure to take care of it and put it away once you’re done. You can also make your own!

If you don’t already have a billion play dough accessories laying around your house regular kitchen items like rolling pins, cookie cutters, and plastic knives make great tools.


I don’t know that there’s anything more classic to keep kids occupied than colouring. You can get all kinds of cool books and sets at the dollar store. I like buying the giant Ikea rolls of paper and rolling it out across the table.

For a colouring alternative, you can also pick up paint books at most dollar stores that come with everything you need.

Sensory Bins

If you haven’t seen them before, sensory bins are basically a small container made up with different objects to appeal to kids’ tactile sense. I used materials from the dollar store to create 5 different bins. The favourite is one that uses trucks, some rocks, and a package of sand. Easy and fun!

Pull out a forgotten toy

Sometimes if other distractions aren’t working I’ll fall back on pulling out something that they don’t normally get to play with. This could be the Lego that hides in the storage room, a forgotten box on the top shelf, or just something that’s part of your usual toy rotation that’s due to come back.

Let them help

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! Or I guess let them join you. It might be stressful but cooking together has a lot of positive benefits. Not only do you get to spend time together, they also get comfortable in the kitchen which will lead to better cooking skills later.

Have any more tips on how to keep kids busy while you cook? Leave me a comment!

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